July-August 2024 11
he new Mayor of Limerick, John
Moran, will hopefully not disappoint
his voters and will stay longer in this
job than he has in his previous
He was head of the Government’s Land
Development Agency for less than three years
when he departed in 2021 following what he
said were disagreements over his contract and
the “woefully inadequate” funding of €300
million for the new body.
Many will recall that he lasted just two years
as Secretary General at the Department of
Finance, after his appointment by then-
Minister and fellow Limerickman, Michael
Noonan, in March 2012.
He previously did a stint with the Swiss
company, Zurich Capital Markets (ZCM),
becoming its chief executive from 1997 to
Following his departure, in May 2007, ZCM
was fined $16 million by the US Securities and
Exchange Commission after it found that the
finance company had “provided financing,
aided and abetted four hedge funds that were
carrying out schemes to defraud mutual funds
that prohibited market timing” and had
specifically “employed deceptive tactics to
invest in mutual funds”.
After his much-hyped spell as the owner of
a juice bar in the French Languedoc region,
Moran joined the Central Bank in 2010 as head
of wholesale banking supervision, moving on
to the Department of Finance in 2011.
He was the head of the Department when it
was involved in negotiating the now infamous
sale by NAMA of its Project Eagle portfolio of
loans in the North of Ireland, the UK and across
The Comptroller and Auditor General
criticised NAMA for incurring a loss of Stg£190
million (€223 million) on the package which
was knocked down to US fund Cerberus for just
over Stg£1.2 billion (€1.5 billion) from a par
value of £4.5 billion (€5.1 billion).
After he announced his planned resignation
in May 2014, Noonan expressed his “deep
regret” and said that Moran “had been
involved in every significant decision taken by
me during the bailout programme” presumably
including the questionable strategy of
encouraging, with generous tax incentives,
international investors to purchase huge
swathes of property in Ireland.
The strategy enabled NAMA to ooad vast
amount of publicly owned assets into corporate
hands in a policy that fuelled the subsequent
financialisation of the property and rental
markets and the current disastrous housing
Michael Noonan was later criticised by the
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for his
meeting with the Cerberus chairman and
executives in late March, 2014, just a day
before bidding closed on the Project Eagle
In its report published in March 2017, PAC
said that the meeting between the finance
minister and the lead bidder was “not
procedurally appropriate” and also chastised
Noonan over his failure to inform it about his
discussions with the Cerberus executives
during his five hours of evidence to the
committee in October 2016.
In a discussion with Village in 2016, Moran
could not recall whether he attended this or
other meetings with Cerberus chiefs during the
final period of Project Eagle negotiations in the
Spring of 2014.
Still under 50 years of age, Moran left the
Department in August 2014 after the sale to
Cerberus was completed.
Among the finance providers for the deal
Cerberus report to rear
heads in late July
The vicissitudinous financial backstory of
Mayor John Moran of Limerick
By Frank Connolly
was Japanese bank, Nomura, which had
expressed interest in the portfolio when it first
emerged as an attractive oer from Nama in
2010 and 2011. Nomura lent some €750
million of the €1.5 billion Cerberus paid for the
After his departure from the Department,
Moran got into consulting and some hot water
when he organised meetings with his former
colleagues in the Department for US firm, Uber,
on its plans for an investment project in
Moran also took up a role with Nomura Bank
in November 2015, some fifteen months after
his resignation as Secretary General, a move
which did not breach any rule or regulation
covering the employment choices of senior
civil servants following their retirement.
A Commission of Investigation into the
Project Eagle sale is expected to publish its
findings in late July following a number of
extensions to its completion date. The
Commission was set up to examine
controversial aspects of the disposal, during
which the earlier lead contender for the
portfolio, US fund, PIMCO, was forced to
withdraw in early 2014.
This followed revelations that a member of
the Northern Ireland Committee of NAMA,
Frank Cushnahan, had received monies from
some of the owners of the distressed loans and
was also promised a success fee from lawyers
acting for PIMCO.
Cushnahan and Belfast solicitor, Ian Coulter,
are facing criminal charges in the North
following these and other claims in relation to
the NAMA sale of its assets in the North.
It will be interesting to see what the
Commission has to say about the role of the
Department, the former Minister and the new
Mayor of Limerick in the labyrinthine Project
Eagle debacle.
Commission of Investigation into Project
Eagle examining how earlier lead contender
to buy it was forced to withdraw following
revelations that a member of the Northern
Ireland Committee of NAMA was promised a
success fee from PIMCO


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